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Is Halloween harmful?

For use with Talking Point worksheets

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Is Halloween harmful?

Postby TalkingPoint » Mon Oct 04, 2004 9:47 pm

Is Halloween harmful?

Instructions: Read the text below to find the answers to the questions on your worksheet.

Halloween, which is celebrated in many Christian countries on 31st October every year, originated in the eighth century AD. The noun "Hallows" is the old English equivalent of "holy saints" and although it is rarely used these days it does crop up, in verb form, in the Lord's Prayer in the line "Hallowed be Thy name" (Holy/Worshipped be Thy name). "Een" is an antiquated abbreviation of "evening" and can often be found in hymns and poetry etc. So "Halloween" means "the evening before the day of the Holy Saints" or "All Hallows Eve". This is because the day after Halloween is 1st November, the day on which the Christian church remembers all the saints in particular and all the dead in general. It is known as "All Saints Day" or "All Souls Day". In many Christian countries this is the day on which people visit the graves and other resting places of deceased family members to remember and honour the dead.

At this time of year, during the Middle Ages, Christians would celebrate the saints' sacrifices, resolve and eventual triumph over the forces of evil, often acting out these stories with the use of costumes and masks to increase their impact on the audience. The timeless influence of such costumes and masks can be seen today in children's fancy dress costumes, masks, and face-painting. Many religions around the world have strong traditions of remembering and honouring the dead - rituals which are often steeped in superstition. Indeed the Christian tradition of remembering the dead and celebrating eternal life has its roots in pagan tradition (as do many other Christian traditions and festivals such as Easter, Harvest Festival and, indeed, Christmas itself). Nowadays we call the festivals celebrated at the end of October and the beginning of November "Halloween" and "All Saints' Day".

Halloween in particular has become very commercialised and in October every year shops in western Europe and North America at least fill with glow-in-the-dark pumpkins, skeleton and witches costumes, fangs and flashing red devil's horns. However the fact that Halloween has become so commercialised need not detract from it's original significance as a valid pagan, then Christian, festival. Some people apparently interpret Halloween not as a glorification of death and the powers of darkness but quite the opposite: as the devout Christians' way of mocking evil, safe in the knowledge that their faith protects the dedicated believer from it through the promise of eternal life.

Quick Quiz
Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.
    1. The noun "Hallows" is the old English equivalent of "holy __________".

    2. "Halloween" __________ "the evening before the day of the Holy Saints".

    3. During the Middle __________, Christians would celebrate the saints' eventual triumph over the forces of evil, often acting out their stories.

    4. Some people interpret Halloween as the devout Christians' way of mocking evil, safe in the __________ that their faith protects the dedicated believer from it.
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